Last year, when Iceland’s Landsbanki collapsed, Great Britain invoked the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act to freeze all Icesave accounts opened by British depositors. Thus, while the British government was happy to bail out Northern Rock, it decided to give Iceland the shaft.
Perfidious Albion’s treachery was not to go unpunished for long! Six months later, Eyjafjallajokull erupted; and shut down European airspace. In what seems like divine justice, the United Kingdom was worst affected. British airports opened after six days of being shut down, well after continental Europe and Ireland.
If it is in fact divine justice, the divinity responsible is probably Surtr, the Norse fire-demon who is inspired by Icelandic volcanic activity. But even if you wish to stick with a rationalist view that does not rely on gods, demons or others, the English made a terrible mistake when they decided to screw Iceland, a country that is legendarily badass, as we can see in the old Icelandic sagas.
The Saga of Cormac the Skald, for instance, has this description of what Cormac did when someone showed insufficient politeness when offering him a black pudding:
Now, in the autumn, Narfi’s work it was to slaughter the sheep. Once, when Cormac came to Tunga, he saw Steingerd in the kitchen. Narfi stood by the kettle, and when they had finished the boiling, he took up a black-pudding and thrust it under Cormac’s nose, crying:
“Cormac, how would ye relish one?
Kettle-worms I call them.”
And in the evening when Cormac made ready to go home he saw Narfi, and bethought him of those churlish words. “I think, Narfi,” said he, “I am more like to knock thee down, than thou to rule my coming and going.” And with that struck him an axe- hammer-blow…
That’s right, he hit Narfi with an axe-hammer-blow for dissing a sausage. When vengeance is involved, things get even worse, as we see in Egil’s Saga:
Kveldulf had in his hand a battle-axe; but when he got on board, he bade his men go along the outer way by the gunwale and cut the tent from its forks, while he himself rushed aft to the stern-castle. And it is said that he then had a fit of shape-strength, as had also several of his comrades. They slew all that came in their way, the same did Skallagrim where he boarded the ship; nor did father and son stay hands till the ship was cleared. When Kveldulf came aft to the stern-castle, he brandished high his battle-axe, and smote Hallvard right through helm and head, so that the axe sank in even to the shaft; then he snatched it back towards him so forcibly that he whirled Hallvard aloft, and slung him overboard. Skallagrim cleared the forecastle, slaying Sigtrygg. Many men plunged into the sea; but Skallagrim’s men took one of the boats, and rowed after and slew all that were swimming.
They didn’t kill everyone. They kept a couple of people alive to go back to the king with this song:
‘For a noble warrior slain
Vengeance now on king is ta’en:
Wolf and eagle tread as prey
Princes born to sovereign sway.
Hallvard’s body cloven through
Headlong in the billows flew;
Wounds of wight once swift to fare
Swooping vulture’s beak doth tear.’
You get the picture. The impression conveyed is that when the Bride told Sofie Fatale that she was allowing her to keep her wicked life, she was merely scratching the surface of threatening messages.
With heritage like this, volcanic eruptions are only the beginning. When the British treated the Icelanders like terrorists, perhaps they did not realise that this could become a self-fulfilling epithet. With their economy in shambles, the Icelanders may now turn to the way of their forefathers and return to setting out in longboats and go a-viking on the British coast. Taking the names of Thor and Tyr, their depredations shall make Brown and Darling pay. Lindisfarne!